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Google's Mayer Says Personalization is Key To Future Search

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the unique-and-special-searchflake dept.


rsmiller510 writes "In a wide-ranging interview with Tech Crunch's Michael Arrington on Wednesday at Le Web in Paris, Google's Marissa Mayer talked about all things Google, but what I found most interesting was when the conversation turned toward the future of search. Mayer said the key to the future of search lies in personalization. ... Mayer said in the future, Google (and presumably other search tools) will understand more about the user and be able to deliver more relevant information based on that knowledge. 'We think that when you look at the winning search engine in 2020 and what traits it's likely to have, we think the one thing that will be true is that it will understand more about you the user.'" Video of the interview with Mayer is available at Tech Crunch. The personalization of search content focuses mainly on SearchWiki, which we discussed when it went live last month. The Register has a more cynical take on the discussion, seizing on comments by Mayer which indicated Google employees may evaluate SearchWiki's user ratings and use them to make "obvious changes" to search results for everyone.

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Google aren't evil (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103411)

Google will give you their web and email services, photo processing, mapping, and office applications and software that will make you a cup of tea. This is all paid for by personally-directed text ads in your tea leaves, based on analysing a DNA sample taken when you sip the tea and sending your genetic code back to Google for future targeting.

Google will maintain complete confidentiality within the marketing department [] of whatever they gather concerning your confidential business data, bank account details, medical information and personal preferences in pornography. "We're Google. We know where you live. In a completely not evil way. Sponsored link: Get Chrome Browsers on Or we'll make you use Windows Live. MuWAAAAhahaha. Sorry, that's my 'spreading Christmas cheer' laugh. Really."

Re:Google aren't evil (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103477)

unlike Microsoft the people of Google are worthy of our complete trust

Re:Google aren't evil (2)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103499)

Not to mention the people of Apple. Evil all the way. [] But shiny, shiny evil, that's pretty and cool and works and gets the chicks.

Re:Google aren't evil (1)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103573)

Chicks? ... Using an apple-built computer will get me chicks?
Would I have to use OSX? Are the chicks attractive?

My loyalties are pretty flexible(like the chicks?)

Sign me up!

Re:Google aren't evil (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103623)

See? Evil will win, because Good is Dumb!

Re:Google aren't evil (2, Insightful)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105227)

no company should be worthy of complete trust

Re:Google aren't evil (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106063)

the people of Google are worthy of our complete trust

You forgot the <sarcasm> tag...or look up the meaning of "naive [] ".

Re:Google aren't evil (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26110313)

Which of course you would have to believe if you where willing to subject yourself to very intimate psychological analysis so that a prgram go intuit what you meant rather than what you typed. While it might be OK for a program on you own private PC to hold the kind of data necessary to reform your search complete with localisation input, blocks, filters and language adjustment in order to send an accurately refined search query to the search engine databases.

Giving that level of psychological access to a for profit, [] "You can make money without doing evil", like WTF is that really meant to mean but "you can make more if you are evil" is crazy and attempting gain that sort of psychological access to minors could be considered criminal. Corporations personalties change with the wind, along with changes n majority share holders, who the current executive team is and, of course the cycles of greed that crop up every time the share price starts to lag, especially when it is tied to unrealistic PE ratios which demand high continual increases quarterly revenue numbers.

Re:Google aren't evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103751)

Do a search on "Manufactured Consent" and read what you find. Then contemplate how it might interact with "Personalized Service" to create a world of short sighted drones. Then decide how you think about Google, or anyone else, "personalizing" the information you're given.

Re:Google aren't evil (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103861)

But it's OK! They're not evil!

Re:Google aren't evil (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106961)

I want to set up a spidering search engine of my own on a box here at home, using ADP or something similar. Any idea what the legal ramifications of this might be? The problem is that I am afraid that it might index something illegal. Would rather not have kid porn crap being accessed from the IP of my cable modem.

First Cup Cake Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103431)

First Cup Cake Post!

How convenient (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103439)

How convenient. The future of search requires giving up libraries of congress worth of personal info, to advertising companies with a sideline in search.

Re:How convenient (1, Troll)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103517)

How much are you prepared to pay for the use of a search engine?

Re:How convenient (0)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104669)

Let's be honest, this is a direction search had to go eventually anyway.

What I want and what you want in search results may be very different, in terms of sources we like, in terms of what we consider valid. So either you and I can both separately buy millions of dollars worth of computer hardware and spend thousands of hours of our time writing the code to make it do what Google does, but with tweaks for our specific preferences... Or Google can do that for everyone simultaneously based on decisions made within their site.

Re:How convenient (1)

SpiderClan (1195655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105063)

Or a search can return a list of results based solely on what I typed in, and I can go through them and decide which are appropriate for me.

Re:How convenient (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26112475)

This is misguided. I have experience with programs trying to guess what I want to do ("It looks like you're writing a cover letter. Let me help you with that.") They are notoriously bad at that. If Google concentrates on reliable results for a generic search, we'll be better off than having them try to get personalized search right. We can already clarify our search in the search line, so this will adds no value.

Maybe they meant personalized ads, and they're just looking for ways to trick us into surrendering the additional personal information to make it more effective. What's next? Are they going to send us search results we didn't even request, because the computer thinks we might want it?

Re:How convenient (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26118699)

What's happening here is not "It looks like you're writing a cover letter. Let me help you with that." Google is starting on top of a functioning search engine, and then it's tweaking results.

If you're a frothing at the mouth "Wikipedia isn't reliable" hater, downmod wikipedia enough, and google should take the hint and stop making Wikipedia rank #2 or #3 in mostly any search where they have an article. If you're a rabid "I want Jimbo Wales's children" wiki-lover, upmod it, and it'll go to #1 on most searches rather than the #2 or #3 I mentioned. If you lean right, upmod fox news. If you lean left, upmod cnn (or something, other than the stereotypical Fox, I don't really know the US media political leanings all that well).

Re:How convenient (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26167611)

I consult Wikipedia a lot, but I'd never up-mod it. What I want to see are the actual rankings, based on popularity and relevancy, in order to make my choice. I don't need Google to remind me what my own preference is. That's not helpful. Moreover, I know when to apply exceptions to my usual preferences, a computer does not.

It would be nice to be able to blacklist domains from my search results, however. That's a feature I could use.

Uh ... now me very afraid (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103449)

Not just Feds but Google will be watching me. Time to buy that underground vacation spot in Montana.

Isn't open source is supposed to solve this? (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103959)

There are so many GNU fans here... Why hasn't anyone created or successfully created (meaning widely used) an open source search engine if everyone is so pissed at Google and the other engine makers for violating privacy?

Re:Isn't open source is supposed to solve this? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104605)

'cause there is Tor, so we can use Google without giving our private data away.

Re:Isn't open source is supposed to solve this? (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105613)

There're also things like the Open Directory [] and the software listed here [] . However, I imagine it is hard to really break into the search engine game without lots of money!

My preference... (4, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103461)

links with actual information. NOT links to sell me shit!

Re:My preference... (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103523)

links with actual information. NOT links to sell me shit!

Time to think of distributed search, rather than being dependent on Google or any other one search engine.

Besides, think of the legal implications. You sit down at a coworkers' 'puter and look for some pictures of kittens for the company Christmas newsletter. You search Google for "cute kittens" and the "personalized results" are all porn links or videos of kittens being tortured and killed, based on that users' search preferences.

Serch works now because it DOESN'T tailor itself to any one person's world-view, or give me what it "thinks" I want. If it ever ends up just giving me "what it thinks I want", we'll end up with an echo chamber effect writ large.

Re:My preference... (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103525)

Eek, I just had a mental picture of a free encyclopaedia supported by product placement.

An automobile or motor car, for example the Peugeot 207 from 8,995 on the road, is a wheeled motor vehicle for transporting passengers...

Define "actual information"? (2, Interesting)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106507)

Is it wise for a single human to decide for his or her self what is and what is not "actual information"? It is a good idea to create tools that allow us to isolate ourself from mainstream thought? Maybe those "links that sell me shit" might mean "they have ads, but really the content is something that makes me uncomfortable". Who knows?

If the most widely used search engine filters the results so it returns only what you want to hear, what kind of society will we have? Will it create one where we humans debate ideas to find their core truths? Or will such technology allow us as a society to hide from uncomfortable truths because our tools make it easy?

Which do you prefer to live in?

Re:Define "actual information"? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26112463)

Sorry, it's time to watch Fox News :).

Who is really being "searched" here? (1)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103471)

The ostensible searchee, or the searcher himself?

Re:Who is really being "searched" here? (5, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103509)

You, the Google Search/Gmail/Chrome user are the "product". The advertisers are the "customer". The servies on offer are the "bait". It's the television model.

Re:Who is really being "searched" here? (2, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103757)

It's the television model.

That's the smartest thing that's been said here. Except the infrastructure of running superhuge data centers, plus the massive (both direct and indirect) networking, and the cost of having thousands of PhDs on staff is several orders of magnitude more expensive than for a TV network. Google sells a product, "consumer eyeballs" to customers (advertisers), anything they do to narrow the demographic "band" they can target for a particular ad makes their product more desirable.

Re:Who is really being "searched" here? (4, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105643)

Google is ridiculously more profitable than NBC Universal or CBS:

Google: []
NBC: []
CBS: []

NBC and CBS are far more than TV networks, so it doesn't directly address your point, but presumably, those companies integrated other aspects of the broadcasting business into their operations to save money, not to spend it.

That they provide more eyeballs at a lower price point is a huge aspect of the success that Google has had; I don't know, but I expect that being cheaper is part of those lower prices.

Re:Who is really being "searched" here? (4, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103595)

You can use Google Search without having a Google account, you know. You don't even have to allow cookies or Javascript and you can block ads. You don't get all the neat personalized features, of course, but it works fine.

I'm not sure if Personalization Is Correct (1)

cleatsupkeep (1132585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103521)

I don't believe personalization is correct. I believe some of the next big things to come out of search are localization and knowledge. Localization being better local results (at least for the relevant searches), and better knowledge meaning knowledge of what is on the page vs. knowledge of what the query meant. This might mean more verbose queries, but the ability to know what the user is looking for, and show them the pages that Google knows mean the same thing, seems to be much bigger than personalizing results based on what they know about the user.

Re:I'm not sure if Personalization Is Correct (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103987)

knowledge of what the query meant.

Doesn't personalization help provide that?

Re:I'm not sure if Personalization Is Correct (1)

cleatsupkeep (1132585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104027)

It could, but I felt like that was a different field than personalization.

In other words... (3, Insightful)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103541)

The future of Google is more data-mining of your private information. Fantastic. Please, bring on the bread and circus... I wonder when Google will delve into the "free" entertainment for your personal information business? GPorn? GPoker? GQuake? GWarcraft?

GWARcraft! (2, Funny)

SmoothriderSean (657482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106283)

Please tell me it didn't take this long for the million-dollar idea of GWARcraft to come about!

My website does this (2, Informative)

LincolnQ (648660) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103569)

I've been working on a personalized news site, if anyone wants to see what the future looks like :) The site learns what you like (based on up/downvoting, like Reddit) and gives you only the news you want to see.

It would probably interest some Slashdot readers (it filters Slashdot, among other things, so you only see the good stuff) and it works like an RSS reader even if you don't trust the recommendations. It's at []

Re:My website does this (2, Interesting)

LincolnQ (648660) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103583)

Oh, and if you want to read about why we built Newsbrane, see []

Re:My website does this (1)

stupido (1353737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105433)

Amazon has figured it out a while ago. Except it offers you things you may want to buy directly from them.

Re:My website does this (1)

zrq (794138) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107691)

Interesting concept, I might like to join.
However, before I do, .. a couple of questions.

What is your business model ?
Presumably you aren't doing all this for free (someone must be paying for the web servers to run it on), so what data do you collect and who do you sell it to ?

We know delicious [] is owned by Yahoo, so they probably use it to provide additional data for their search engine.

If you are just two people [] doing it for the good of mankind, then congratulations. I'm impressed.
In which case, you need a page that outlines your privacy policy, with details of what would happen to all that interesting data you will have collected if/when you get an offer you can't refuse from one of the big players.

Sorry if this is a bit tin-foil-hat, but the big FaceBook connect button on your registration page made me wary. FaceBook do not have the best reputation regarding data mining and privacy policy (basically, they own your data and can sell it to whoever they want to).

Echo Chamber (5, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103571)

While a Personalized search is likely to give you results that would probably most interest you, it is also likely to exclude results that don't fit your "profile" but are relevant to what you are looking for.

So the search engine is always returning results it thinks you would like to see, but not results that you probably should see.

Re:Echo Chamber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26104005)

Google'd better make their search more personalized. Given the large amounts of my personal information that they have, I expect them to work hard to provide me with search results that do not contradict my beliefs.

I disagree (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106463)

And instead of debating you fools, I instead will just "personalize" you and your views away. The world is flat, 9-11 was a plot by the Nike Shoe Factory to convince NYC firefighters to buy expensive running shoes and we never landed on the Moon, we landed on Mercury to have a round table meeting with the extra-dimensional life that gives the US it's weapons technology.

How do I know this? Everything I want to hear is always number one on Google! I boycott everything else (known as "Main Stream Media") by hiding it!

Re:Echo Chamber (4, Informative)

mckinnsb (984522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104101)

Thank you for bringing this up. It is important to remember as we move forward in developing information technology for the future that the process of learning , when driven by the search for information, includes seeing *what we do not want to see*.

It reminds me of a conversation that I had with an old family friend, involving research and the Internet:

Myself: (continuing)" my research is greatly aided by the massive amounts of indexed information on Internet. I can access the specific data I need without having to wade through large amounts of information."

Friend: "That's great, but often times I worry that the nature of research is changing because of things like the Internet, Google, Questia, etc. When I was in college, writing research papers, I would have to go to the library, find the relevant books in a card catalog, and then rent out all of those books and pour through them. Now I'm not saying that I didn't skip chapters or pages, but I found that the process of looking through the card catalog, finding all books related to the subject, and reading information that was irrelevant or detrimental to my thesis was more informative than finally arriving at the information that merely supported my thesis. Often times this process of discovery would force me to re-analyze my position resulting in a more robust conclusion. I fear that if people are brought too quickly to what they are looking for, that they will ignore everything else, and that could lead to many problems."

I was young (teenager) when we had this conversation, and at first I disagreed with him. Now, however, I completely agree with him. I think that "compartmentalized" search information could inevitably do more harm than good as it could result in many more 'localized theories' and far fewer rigorously tested truths.

Re:Echo Chamber (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26110989)

All you have to remember is that Google is one tool. Wikipedia is another. Books are yet again another. If you want to get the best results of your research you'll use all the tools available... including personal discovery - as in, doing the experiments yourself.

At an undergrad level or high school, etc. you may be able to get by doing high level research - as you're really just proving that you can collect data and make observations about that data, it's not important that the data you collect be exhaustive. Your research is not destined for peer review or publication at that level. Later when you're doing work that will have an impact on others, you better be sure you have as much as you can find in all sources - or you're going to have your hat handed to you and it's gonna be bad.

In a more general sense, personalized searches are an echo chamber - but really, that's what people want on a day to day basis.... they have preferences - they want to see results which match those preferences.

There's nothing wrong with this but as you've stated, it's not good when you're looking for consensus or even looking for disparity - you'll get neither.

Re:Echo Chamber (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26112829)

That's not so bad if Google can generate public point of view groups (out of datamining many POVs), users can also create their own public POV goups, and users can choose a group's POV to search from.

Then you can stumble on things you normally don't see.

Or make better search for stuff when your usual search POVs are not working.

Sometimes you might have reasons to be searching for stuff you'd normally not search for.

For instance you might be searching for a new restaurant that your friend X might like, in the area he is moving to next month.

There is no point customizing your own POV for that. Best to find a suitable existing POV.

Re:Echo Chamber (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104481)

While a Personalized search is likely to give you results that would probably most interest you, it is also likely to exclude results that don't fit your "profile" but are relevant to what you are looking for.

So the search engine is always returning results it thinks you would like to see, but not results that you probably should see.

Indeed. Further Google's track record with suggestions based on past searches, (there is a Google Gadget that attempts to recommend sites, videos/etc that you might be interested in) is terrible. Those tools chose one or two searches, usually those least similar to all your other searches, and makes suggestions based on those. So if you ever perform a one-off search on some topic, Google will assume that topic is just as important to you as any other search you have ever entered, even though grouping searches by topic area, and focus sing on topic areas most searches is very possible, and for recommendations would usually give better results.

Right now for example, Google Eecomends I watch "Doctor Who - Regeneration, 2nd Doctor." because I have allegedly watched "Doctor Who - The Genesis Of The Daleks/Davros Clip...." I may have at some point ended up on that page, but I never watched said clip. Further, I don't watch Dr. Who at all.

That said, the suggestion at least does match a topic area of interest (Science Fiction), so it is not terrible.

It also recommends I watch "Dr. Stephen Hawking on the future of humanity", because I watch some other video with Dr. Hawkings. That video actually does sound interesting, and I may watch it, but my primary reason for watching the other clip was only obverve his rather unique communications system.

The web search suggestions are only a little better.

I now look at SearchWiki. That is worthless to me. I can modify the results of a search, so that I get the same results the next time I perform EXACTLY the same search? Big deal!

There are not very many searches I run more than a few times, so unless Google analyzes my changes
and incorporates them into the initial "personalized search results", the feature is completely worthless to me.

Re:Echo Chamber (2, Interesting)

sootman (158191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105097)

A couple related things:
- this might make it harder to find things when you want to start exloring a new field. Like if I want to learn about squid, the animal, but it returns results for squid, the proxy server, because I've done network-related searches in the past.
- sometimes I'm looking for new information, sometimes I'm looking for old information again. If I searched for disk recovery tools six months ago and I'm looking again today, maybe I want to find what I found last time because it worked, maybe I'm looking for something new because it didn't.

But...but... (3, Interesting)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103593)

I don't want my search engine to know anything about me! For a number of reasons:

1. I don't want it applying pre-conceived notions of what I might be looking for. In some cases I'm sure it might be helpful for it to think it knows what I might want but I can see just as many cases where it would be bad as well.

2. I don't want them reporting, anymore than they already are, more stuff back to marketeers and such.

3. And even if the search engine does operate slightly better when it knows who I am that would mean it would require me to log in to it every place I go.

I can see that there could be advantages. But honestly the advantages look like they are a lot more on their end than mine.

Editor's Added Comments Are Not Quite Correct (3, Informative)

rsmiller510 (1051940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103653)

I submitted this piece and while Mayer discussed the Search Wiki, this is not what I was referring to. If you fast forward to around the 16 or 17 minute mark of the video, Mayer begins a discussion of the future of search, 10-20 years out where she talks about personalization, modes and media as three pillars of future search. It is this part of the discussion that I focus on in my post. The Search Wiki actually has nothing to do with this.

False negatives (1)

markpapadakis (115698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103869)

As others (may)have mentioned already, personalization is a tricky business. You may get more false positives ( results that are not quite what you were looking for ), which can be okay but you may even get the kind of false negatives that could lead to perfectly suited to your query pages falling way down in the results set.
You may even have to worry about what you are looking for, worrying whether it may confuse the system (e.g searching for a given subject may affect future results based on the fact that you searched for that said subject, even if you may no longer care for it, once you are done researching ).
I am sure those and other effects can and will be minimized but it seems unlikely this could become a 'solved problem' anytime soon.

Option to edit interests (3, Interesting)

GayBliss (544986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103941)

I think this can work OK if they gave you some way to edit your interests, or to temporarily turn them off. It would be really awful if it got stuck thinking you had some interest based on some odd search (or a misinterpretation of some term).

If I search for "gnome desktop" and "gimp" I would hate for it to start thinking I have a particular interest in men with unusual physical characteristics. tracks what you search for and buy, and uses it to decide what ads to display. I like it, even though it makes me nervous to have them know too much about me. Amazon also gives you the option to say "I'm not really interested in that", so they can remove it from your list of interests.

Re:Option to edit interests (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106059) tracks what you search for and buy, and uses it to decide what ads to display. I like it, even though it makes me nervous to have them know too much about me. Amazon also gives you the option to say "I'm not really interested in that", so they can remove it from your list of interests.

Three years ago, my daughter developed an interest in some stuff, and I bought her five related items for Christmas from Amazon. Enough to last her a lifetime. I will never, ever buy that kind of item again. But Amazon hasn't forgotten. Not in three years. Totally gets on your nerves.

Re:Option to edit interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26108181)

What kind of item?

It's about the ads (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103969)

Search personalization is of marginal value. In fact, it's kind of a pain, because searches become nonportable and nonrepeatable. If you tell someone else "search for ...", they won't get the same results you did. But advertising personalization... that's where the money is.

Google offers a great range of services and products, but almost all of them lose money.. No Google product other than search advertising makes money, and even that is declining. The Google Content Network (Google ads on non-Google sites) isn't that beneficial to the actual advertisers, and the more savvy advertisers have opted out of it. People click on those ads, but seldom buy. (By default, AdWords customers are opted in, and the opt-out checkbox is hard to find.) Google stock is down 57% from the peak, and revenue is projected to decline for the next three years. So Google is cutting back on new projects, killing off some of the money-losers, and trying to milk their one profitable product, ads on search results, for all they can.

Using search history, it would be straightforward to recognize specific big-ticket buying situations, like "looking for a car" or "looking for a house". This can be used for lead generation. Search for information about cars for a while, and not only do you start seeing car ads all the time, you get phone calls from sales reps.

People like you helping people like us help ourselves. - Processed World

Re:It's about the ads (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105959)

While I'm not surprised about most Google services not making money, I always just assumed they were used to collect data so advertisements could be better targeted. I.e. looking at my e-mail, calendar, and RSS feeds would give someone a really good idea of the stuff that I (or someone like me) might be interested in purchasing.

really? (2, Interesting)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104047)

Isn't the point of search engine is to know what other people think relevant regarding the subject that you're searching for?

Semantic Search != Personalisation (3, Informative)

maharg (182366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104069)

The author of the Daniweb article fundamentally misunderstands semantic search, stating that "Search certainly has a key role in helping us sift through the mountains of information and semantic search, where the search engine has a sense of the meaning and context of our search, which is essentially what Mayer refers to when she cites personalization, could be the key to helping us access the data that's most relevant to us."

Actually semantic search is not really about personalisation at all. Personalisation could enhance semantic search, but they are two separate disciplines. I posted on what semantic search really means a while back [] , but I'll re-iterate here.

say a guitarist wants to search for a guitar amp speaker cabinet that would handle the 100w (that's RMS watts) output of his Marshall amp, and fit in the boot/trunk of his car - let's say it's a Ford whatever... anyhow, the point is that the semantic search app would need to discover the dimensions of the car's boot/trunk from Ford, then it could search for speaker cabs that would fit in the boot/trunk that could handle 100w (that's RMS remember) so, if the dimensions of the boot/trunk are expressed in inches by Ford and the dimensions of the cab are expressed in cm by Marshall/Mesa Boogie/Fender et al, then of course there needs to be a standard scheme to express units of size, and then the conversions are easy. Don't forget, that's 100w RMS...

Today you would need to run multiple searches, holding information (the size of the cabinet v.s. size of the boot/trunk) in your head to complete the task. With semantic search, the computer would do it all for you.

Re:Semantic Search != Personalisation (1)

rsmiller510 (1051940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106235)

With all due respect, I don't think I misunderstand it at all. Part of semantic search and semantic content delivery (which are linked) is to understand about the user and deliver the content that matters most to them. While I agree it has to do with programatically delivering content based on lots of contextual clues, it also is about pinpointing the responses and the content you show for any given user, rather than pretending that you can have one-size-fits all content. Ron Miller

Sorry, I choose to "personalize" your ideas away.. (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106427)

I disagree with you. Thanks to more personalization coming in "the future" I'll finally be able to shape my echo chamber in a way that filters you semantic search people out of my world view forever. But until that time comes, I'll be forced to challenge my values, thoughts and beliefs by debating you instead. So:

I'd love to hear how any kind of "Semantic Web" or "Semantic Search" deals with the natural tenancy of people to want to improve their rankings. Remember the days before Google and you used to be able to get on top of Lycos or Altavista by just stuffing the "Keyword" meta-tag full of garbage? How is any kind of "Semantic Web" different then a fancy, W3C sanctioned "keyword" meta-tag?

Course, thanks to this new-fangled "personalized search", once you do solve the problem I won't know about it because my Tivo, my e-Newspaper, my pocket cell-computer, my microwave-xbox-wiimote and my digital iToaster will know better then to tell me. So please, take time to reply thoughtfully; after all, in the near future I will finally be able to filter uncomfortable ideas likes yours away. Thankfully, in the future you will be able to screen your world in a way that doesn't require you to argue with me. You and I can both live a digital life where everybody agrees with us!

Re:Sorry, I choose to "personalize" your ideas awa (1)

f2x (1168695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106865)

Thankfully, in the future you will be able to screen your world in a way that doesn't require you to argue with me. You and I can both live a digital life where everybody agrees with us!

That sounds great. So from my perspective, there's going to be about 15 people world-wide on the internet, one of them is called Zombo, and none will live within 600 miles of me. Fantastic!

Taking it a step further, just think of the possibilities! Spouses won't even be able send one another an e-mail! Google will have determined that the very act of you sending messages to her is just too risky, as it might start an argument.

Back on the main topic, I find the idea unsettling that different people will receive different search results. Isn't that sort of like the concept of "separate but equal"? In theory, it almost sounds good, but in practice you can only have one or the other. Then you realize that some people consistently get better search results than others, and you probably ain't among them.

Re:Sorry, I choose to "personalize" your ideas awa (1)

rsmiller510 (1051940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107185)

I just report and discuss what I see and hear and react to it, but I do think the semantic web, whatever it turns out to be, will have some impact on the future of content delivery and of search. I don't think you have to concern yourself with this just yet. As Mayer said, if you bothered read the post, that this is her 2020 prediction, a ways away just yet and lot of technology hurdles to overcome. You have every right to be skeptical, but this is just one person from one company talking and it doesn't necessarily mean this is how it's going to play out.

Semantic Search = Understanding Query and Pages (2, Insightful)

SpammersAreScum (697628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26111177)

My wish is less ambitious than that. The search engine and indexer need to have a basic understanding of the query and the page content. When I search for, say, 'image viewer for Mac', I want pages that are about -- astonishingly enough -- an image viewer for Mac, not a page that happens to have all those words scattered through it. When I search for pages about a person named 'John Lee', I want pages that at least mention a person with that name, not pages about 'John Lee Hooker', or about companies that happen to have 'John Lee' in their name. Enough semantics to know that 'photo' will do as a substitute for 'image', for example, would be helpful as well.

(You listening, Google? I'm an ontologist / NLP developer; let's talk.)

It won't work because I still have choice (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104073)

as to whether I log in or spoof my IP address and lots more...

What about unpredictablitly? (2, Interesting)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104149)

The only issue I have with any kind of computer software that "learns" about your tendencies based on your past behavior is that human beings are unpredictable. We learn new things, we try new things and we aren't the same people today as we were 4 or 5 years ago. We grow and we change. So if I'm dealing with a search engine is that is filtering my results based on some previous information about my behavior what happens if I change?

Here's an extreme example. Let's say a drug user decides to clean up his act. He decides he wants to order a bunch of his favorite soft drink and have it delivered so he types in "coke". Well if he had previously searched for "coke" looking up information about the drug and how it affects your body and had previously been looking up information about other drugs and the search engine accounted for that then what comes up when he searches for "coke" but wants information about the soft drink? There better be an easy way for the system to set aside your previous behavior and start from scratch because people change and when you change the context in which you want information changes as well. Learning from past behavior has serious upside but there are some downsides as well that must be considered.

Re:What about unpredictablitly? (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104199)

I don't usually reply to myself but before some smart ass looks at my example and says "just type in 'coke soft drink'" or something else like that my response is well no shit Sherlock. That was just a very, very basic example. The point still stands. People change and so does their behavior so the point is that past behavior doesn't necessarily indicate current or future behavior and that has to be accounted for in a service or a certain percent of the population will eventually find the service less than useful. In some instances it could be a hindrance.

Google just wants to get to know you (1)

r7 (409657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104237)

Of course Google "believes" personalized search is the future. It's in their advertising interest to learn as much about you as they can. That's where their revenue comes from. You can't really expect them to say anything that would negatively impact revenue.

I have not found that personalized search yields good quality results. That may be because most of my searches are about stuff I don't know rather than stuff I already know. More important is the choice of personalized or non-personalized search. What Google isn't talking about, and hasn't given consumers the option of to-date, is any choice in this matter (bean-counter mandate to be sure, "do no evil" marketing aside).

That's why I use Scroogle []

Point of Diminishing Returns (2, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104363)

The future of search is not clogging every query result set with commercial links. You almost can't access legitimate information anymore, because every search returns advertisement after advertisement. It's almost to the point where you might as well go straight to wikipedia instead of bothering with Google.

Re:Point of Diminishing Returns (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104375)

How large a subscription fee are you prepared to pay for a search engine?

Re:Point of Diminishing Returns (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104743)

The future of search is not clogging every query result set with commercial links. You almost can't access legitimate information anymore, because every search returns advertisement after advertisement. It's almost to the point where you might as well go straight to wikipedia instead of bothering with Google.

This is largely because of affiliate marketing. Everybody wants to make a buck and it is becoming easier to do so online. That said, I think it is forcing us to become savvier in how we search. This will force us to develop resources that provide targeted information that we are searching for (without the ads) such as Wikipedia. It will also force us to learn how to be more critical of what we find and learn to identify when people have a vested interest in steering us towards one direction or another. Not to mention people will actually have to learn how redirects work and learn how to spot affiliate IDs. Remember, if someone is getting paid to get you to buy a product, you can't trust their review of it (btw review sites are the next big thing that affiliate marketers have been doing as of late).

Examples of search profiles: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26104379)

Furries with nonfurries
Furries with strictly no nonfurries
Furry lesbians only
Furry MMF
Furry FFM
Furries with toys
Cat furries
Fox furries
Panther furries
Softcore furries
Furry Lifestyle

This will save me so much time

Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (3, Interesting)

internewt (640704) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104409)

For about a year or so I have been sending all my Googling through TOR (using Foxyproxy and a rule) as I do not like to be tracked, trended or advertised at, but it seems that Google are clamping down on people doing anonymous searches, under the old guise of blaming the end user and viruses etc. on their computer.

The problem is this. If you do a Google search through TOR, there is a very high chance you will get redirected to and get a page back entitled "403 Forbidden" saying:


        We're sorry... ... but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spy ware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now.

        We'll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spy ware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.

        If you're continually receiving this error, you may be able to resolve the problem by deleting your Google cookie and revisiting Google. For browser-specific instructions, please consult your browser's online support centre.

        We apologise for the inconvenience and hope we'll see you again on Google.

When I started using Google through TOR it would work most of the time, with only the occasional one of these. Then the situation got better, as Google added a captcha to the page, so you could prove you were human and it would give you the results even though the freqency of the 403 went up. Then the capthca got rarer, and now I never see it, but get the 403 page near constantly. To work around the issue I have to tell my TOR daemon to create a new circuit, so I get a new exit node which might not be flooding Google as much. This obviously puts undue strain on the TOR network too.

The Google apologists will be queing up no doubt to tell me that I am getting this page because I am using TOR and all the searches appear to Google to come from a few IPs, so I should use Google directly. And whilst I am there I should forget about privacy and use a Google account all the time! All I can say is that Google's behaviour in reaction to searches from TOR is they appear to have made it harder for TOR users to use Google (do no evil, ha!), as 1) it used to work most of the time 2) TOR exit nodes are publicly known, so Google could easily whitelist those IPs 3) The captcha has gone away completely 4) the frequency of this error has shot up. I sometimes need to tell TOR to recreate the circuit over 5 times before I get an exit node that Google are serving.

I have also filled in feedback on the Google site on numerous occasions to try and get them to address the Googling through TOR issue, but I feel that they have just then clamped down on the untrackable people using TOR.

Google are very aggressive about trying to get info on their users, and it has now passed the point where they have decided that their business interests are important than people's anonymity. Google stopped being cool in my book a while ago, and these days they are utter bastards, who happen to operate the best search engine.

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26104637)

so... dont use google?

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26104697)

Sure, they could whitelist tor exit nodes. Except they might as well take the whole fucking thing that gives the 403 down because then the bots would just slam them through tor, or run exit nodes and slam them on the side (since I really doubt tor has the kind of bandwidth they want).

Really, there's no solution here except for you NOT to use Google. You're already making sacrifices for your anonymity if you're using tor (sacrifices of speed and, occasionally, probably exiting in a foreign country and getting Spanish pages). Sacrifice your use of the best engine and settle for "OK".

Why should Google go out of their way and open themselves up to problems, just so you and the other hundred people like you can use their engine at no benefit to them?

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26105033)

The problem is... if you're untrackable, how can they differenciate between you and the spammers who're using google services?

You all show up as coming from the same TOR exit node.

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (3, Informative)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105319)

yeah i had this same problem, use scroogle instead.

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26108847)

Wouldn't it be funny if Scroogle was owned by Google?

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26105737)

The Google apologists will be queing up no doubt to tell me that I am getting this page because I am using TOR and all the searches appear to Google to come from a few IPs, so I should use Google directly

Google usually blocks IP addresses from where large number of queries come quickly, regardless whether it is a tor node or else. We also ran into this issue while trying to use their apis for retrieving large amount of search results from the same ip address, and there was no workaround besides waiting enough time so new searches would be allowed. You shouldn't be so paranoid about the tor non-issue, I don't think it's because you use tor, but because lots of people are on the same node and sometimes a large number of queries can seem to come from that node.

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26109925)

So you think that Google's attempts to prevent scrapers and bots from going nuts on their site is actually just a secret anti-anonymity campaign directed against TOR users?

You go on to suggest that Google should be regularly researching the IPs of public proxies because clearly nobody would ever think to write a bot that scrapes Google through a proxy?

I have an idea: You should start your own competing search engine! Instead of wasting your time on stupid things like the quality of the results, you can spend it on the much more worthwhile problem of trying to minimize the inconvenience to users that happen to be using a machine that's launching a DoS attack or running automated scrapers.

In fact, I like that idea so much I might just pitch it to Kleiner Perkins myself!

Re:Googling through TOR = nearly impossible (1)

Quixote (154172) | more than 5 years ago | (#26111547)

I am a privacy nut too, but there might be something else to it here. TOR, by its very nature, makes it easy for people to run lots of automated queries against Google. So it's natural that Google will clamp down on what it sees are automated accesses from the same IP.

If there was a way to use Google on a peer-to-peer fashion so that only humans used it, I'm sure Google won't block you.

I'm not associated with Google in any way, and regularly clean out my cookies.

Reputation and timeliness more important (2, Interesting)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104537)

Personalization is a red herring. A Google search is outward-facing, casting a line into the full depth and breadth of all of the world's information. I'm the one who gets to decide what is relevant to me.

No, I think Neal Stephenson nailed it in Anathem: the future of search is putting real value on reputation. After hundreds of years of global internet crap has accumulated in the world's indexes, supplemented by the output of intelligent marketing- and disinformation-bots, the only way to search with confidence will be to use a reputation market to filter the results. The results that providers are most willing to back with hard currency are the results you can put the most faith in.

I also wish Google would focus a little bit more on timeliness. It's really frustrating to search on an emerging Linux issue and get bombarded with results from 2003. It's a completely different OS now, that stuff is ancient history.

Re:Reputation and timeliness more important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26112083)

Agree your comment on personalization.

Here I was, thinking the future of search would lie in the sorting the crap from the most informative and useful. That'd be a better alternative to - oh yeah, Page Rank. Maybe it's too hard to do; so instead they try and create a search engine that sucks up to me?

De-personalized sites would be my chosen future for the internet, though I don't have too high hopes for it.

I believe her (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104577)

Because she's pretty.

Imagine this.... (2, Insightful)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104827)

10 years on, and Google have a lot of data but are on the skids as a viable business. Imagine the US government offering to "help" by buying Google (and it's mountains of personal data) to "maintain stability". Imagine all Google's data being made available to every department of the US government for "national security" purposes; after all the war on terror will last a lifetime....right?

Many corporate events have happened which would have been unthinkable just a few years before the shit hit the fan. By the time it starts to crumble, people will start to wake up to the fact that Google knows a LOT more about them than they are comfy with.....specially if it can then be used by the government without any legal niceties like warrants, or even home / work / school visits.

I try to avoid Google as much as possible. I have done for a while, this story is just another reason not to change those habits.

Re:Imagine this.... (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105301)

Imagine the US government offering to "help" by buying Google (and it's mountains of personal data) to "maintain stability".

No problem. I'm not an American so the US Government threatens me no more or no less with this data than it does today. If you are suggesting that the US government 'might' use such information to persuade citizens of other nations to do something that they might otherwise not do or to apply pressure in any other way, then Americans need to sort out their government. Of course, some Americans might be of the opinion that anything that their government does to 'foreigners' is OK (ignoring the fact that we might actually be allies), to which I can only reply that their Government represents to the world each and every American citizen, and if that is how they wish to be perceived by others then so be it.

Re:Imagine this.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26105735)

It's amazing how often the reaction to bad government is to try to hide from it, rather than to try to fix it.

I guess there is personal risk, but it doesn't seem a whole lot worse than the risk of living in a world that you think you need to hide from.

Big Bookmarks File in the Sky (1)

thebian (1218280) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106375)

It sounds to me like Google wants to be a super bookmarking service, where I can go directly to my favorite urls -- in fact, doesn't Google actually want to sync my bookmarks for me?

But what about the urls I don't know?

I often search for things out of idle curiosity, and want a tidbit of information one time and one time only. I fear that the Google paradigm wants to take that away in exchange for assuring advertisers that buyers will be visiting the pages they offer users.

The domination of this advertising focus may ultimately destroy the value of the web by subordinating the notion relevance to the needs of merchandising. It's a tough situation. There's no money in making searching any better: Search only needs to be a little bit better than the second-best, and not at all under a monopoly.

Not to mention privacy. But luckily, I think the ability of data-mining -- whether Google's or the NSA's -- is way oversold.

Very Cool (1)

greedom (1431073) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106901)

I think that's very cool. Just looking at the headline I thought it was talking about iGoogle and how they have mini programs for customizing the webpage. This is much better news. It certainly makes sense too and I'm sure that Google will be the first one to come out with it as all the other search engines (with the exception of Dogpile) just can't seem to get it right. I tried using Windows Live for awhile just because it was convenient to have my e-mail displayed on my home page but I found myself going back to Google countless times because Live couldn't even get close to what I was looking for. I imagine they'll start doing this process through the username itself. As in, you have to be an iGoogle or Gmail user who is logged in all the time to have access to these features. I can see how that would be a pain for some people but I'm always logged in anyway, (but I don't use Gmail) not to mention that it would read your search no matter which computer you were on so long as you're logged in. Go Google! They aren't going anywhere but up, I've also heard they're looking to get in on the cellular communications market.

I'm schizophrenic, dyslexic, and biplor... (2, Funny)

deanston (1252868) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107423)

I cannot be personalized.

Just To Sell More Ads (1)

deanston (1252868) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107483)

Google only care about personalization so they can say they hold more consumer data than anyone and tell that to their advertisers to sell more ads. If you tell them I want a personalized web resource with absolutely no ads, they'll just smile and walk away.

Google's Mayer Says... Dumb Things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123587)

If you are offering me a personalized search, that implies you know who I am and that you have some amount of information collected about me. Therefore it is nothing less than a logical fallacy to assume that you will ever be able to offer me personalized search - how could you, when I never have given, and never will give, any of my personal info? You can't/ QED. Goodbye

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